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San Diego Wrongful Death Lawyers

We Obtained The Largest Wrongful Death Verdict in California History. $106,000,000.

What is Your case worth?

The laws of personal injury deal with loss.  When someone is injured by the actions of someone else, that person faces several forms of loss that are physical, emotional and financial in nature.  The purpose of personal injury laws is to make that person who has been harmed as whole as possible.  When it comes to sudden loss, nothing is equal to the loss of a life.  When families find themselves dealing with enormous amounts of grief, sadness, shock and anger because a loved one has been killed by someone else, those families are often unsure of where to turn for help.  Working through a sudden death of a loved one is more than enough to have to attempt to handle.  People in this position need to contact the San Diego wrongful death lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible.

Types of Wrongful Death Cases the Firm Handles

For more than a decade, Gomez Trial Attorneys has been standing up for the rights of suffering families as San Diego wrongful death lawyers.  There are several different types of cases that we handle, including wrongful deaths caused by:

A wrongful death case can arise from several different scenarios.  Whichever way such a situation arises, you need to have your situation analyzed as soon as possible after the death occurs.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits – Types of Damages

Few if any types of cases involve more actual financial loss than wrongful death cases.  Below are just a few examples of the types of damages that could be pursued and recovered in a wrongful death action:

  • Medical expenses – It’s common for someone who is wrongfully killed to be admitted to a hospital before that person’s life ends.  These expenses can be enormous.
  • Funeral expenses – Funerals can cost thousands of dollars as well, and many families are not prepared to handle those costs if a person’s death was not foreseeable.
  • Property damage – Some wrongful death cases involve property damage, and these losses can be recovered.
  • Loss of income – A family may be able to recover damages for lost income that includes income the deceased would have earned had he or she lived a full life.
  • Loss of companionship – This form of recovery concerns the loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, moral support, training and guidance.  These are often the greatest harms.
  • Punitive damages – In certain situations, such as when an act that kills someone else is egregious in nature, a plaintiff can pursue and recover punitive damages.  These are not tied to any direct form of loss, but instead are awarded in the interests of justice.

Every wrongful death case should be analyzed by San Diego wrongful death lawyers who have handled these cases many times in the past.  Every case is different and each requires an experienced professional hand in determining the types of losses that should be pursued.

Why the San Diego Wrongful Death Lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys?

San Diego wrongful death lawyers

If you lose someone you love because of the negligence, recklessness or even the intentional acts of someone else, you face a very difficult situation.  You have suddenly lost a loved one and you need to be able to focus on the grieving process so that you can move forward in your struggle to carry on with your life.  This is not the time to attempt to work through the complicated world of wrongful death lawsuits.  You will most likely be dealing with experienced defense attorneys and other professionals whose job is to limit the financial liability of the defendant or defendants.

The San Diego wrongful death lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys have been fighting successfully for clients facing this difficult situation for several years.  At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we have extensive experience in a range of personal injury and wrongful death claims. Take a look at our past results:

  • $106,000,000 wrongful death jury verdict
  • $10,000,000 wrongful death settlement
  • $1,250,000 wrongful death settlement due to DUI driver
  • $7,000,000 wrongful death settlement
  • $6,000,000 wrongful death settlement

Because every case is unique, we can not guarantee specific results in your wrongful death claim. At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we have an experienced team dedicated to helping our clients seek the compensation they need and deserve. Our attorneys will fight hard for the financial compensation your family needs after losing a loved one.

What Do You Need to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

To file a wrongful death claim, you must have lost a family member due to someone else’s negligence. Several factors contribute to whether you have grounds to file a wrongful death claim.

Who Caused the Incident?

To file a wrongful death claim, you will need to prove that someone owed the decedent a duty of care. Then, you must show the individual failed to provide that duty of care. You must show that the failure to exercise the appropriate duty of care lead to the incident causing your loved one’s death. In a nursing home neglect claim, for example, a facility may fail to provide adequate care. If their failure to provide adequate care caused a fall that ultimately led to your loved one’s death, you may be able to file a claim. In a construction accident, you might file a claim against the company that failed to provide adequate precautions at a construction site. To determine the parties responsible for an accident, you may ask:

  • Who bore a duty of care to your loved one in this scenario? On the roadways, every driver owes a duty to other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycle riders.
  • How did that individual violate their duty of care? In an auto accident, a driver who chose to drive recklessly, leading to an accident violated their duty of care.
  • Did the violation lead to your loved one’s death? Evidence of neglect in a nursing home did not cause a death, if your loved one died of an unpreventable medical condition. On the other hand, neglect that directly causes your loved one’s death, may form the basis of a wrongful death claim. If another’s actions caused your loved one’s death, you may be entitled to compensation for your loved one’s loss.

What Relationship Do You Have to the Deceased?

Losing a loved one can cause incredible pain regardless of your relationship to the decedent. However, only certain relationships entitle individuals to file a wrongful death claim. Typically, the spouse of the deceased has the first right to file a wrongful death claim. If the deceased had no spouse, other family members may have the right to file a claim. For example:

  • The deceased individual’s children
  • The deceased individual’s parents, if he had no children
  • Close relatives who were dependent on the deceased for financial or physical support
  • The deceased’s estate

In certain circumstances, the decedent’s estate may file a claim to recoup medical expenses and settle any debts.

If you lose a loved one, your family can file only one wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent. If multiple responsible parties contributed to the accident, you may file a claim against each of them.

However, you cannot file separate claims for different members of the family. Instead, you will list the total losses among all family members in a single claim. If one member of the family files a claim or accepts a settlement, others may be prevented from seeking further compensation. To help prevent confusion, members of the family should work together to decide how to handle a wrongful death claim.

What Compensation Can You Request in a Wrongful Death Claim?

Two people who have lost loved ones in very similar accidents may receive vastly different compensation. The amount of compensation will depend on the maximum compensation set by the responsible party’s insurance company. When you put together your claims package, several important elements will help determine the amount of compensation you deserve.

Your Loved One’s Suffering

To file a wrongful death claim, the decedent need not have died immediately at the scene of the accident. Often, your loved one may survive, sometimes for days or even weeks, before succumbing to his injuries. In these circumstances your family may also be entitled to:

  • Compensation for any medical expenses your loved one faced. Many people find that medical bills cause significant costs after a loved one’s death. High medical costs may be unexpected if your loved one did not live long after the accident. At the hospital, however, your loved one may receive extensive treatment to attempt to preserve his or her life. Treatment may include X-rays, scans, surgeries, and consultations with several different doctors. A single day in a life support unit can cost between $2,000 and $4,000. The longer your loved one lived after the incident, the more medical expenses can increase.
  • Compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering. When the injuries from an incident lead to death, your loved one may experience substantial pain before death. As part of your wrongful death claim, you may be able to seek compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering.

Your Loved One’s Financial Contributions

When you lose your family’s primary breadwinner, you may struggle to handle your financial obligations. Your family may be especially affected if the surviving spouse does not work outside the home. As a spouse, losing that income can leave you unsure of what to do next. Financial stress coupled with the grief from your loss can be overwhelming. Others may also have financial expectations from the deceased individual. For example, children who required their parents’ support or adult children who needed assistance attending school. In addition, elderly parents may have relied on financial assistance from an adult child. Oftentimes, other elderly relatives may have also received regular support from the deceased.

Your Loved One’s Service Contributions to the Family

In addition to their income, most individuals provide a wide range of services to their family members. As part of your wrongful death claim, work with an attorney to determine what services your loved one provided. Your attorney can help you predict how much it will cost to replace those services after their loss. Some service contributions that you may be compensated for include:

  • The cost of childcare. Paying for childcare can be a costly expense. Each year, parents pay an average of over $11,000 to place a single child in daycare. If you have multiple children or live in a high-cost area, you may pay even more for adequate care. You may also include the cost of after-school care for school-age children who are not old enough to be left unattended.
  • Providing meals for the family. Cooking for a family can take an hour or more per night. When you find yourself alone, you may have to purchase meals from a restaurant to provide food for your family. The average meal eaten outside the home costs each family member $12.75. If you have a large family or eat out frequently, the costs of feeding your family can add up quickly.
  • Cleaning the home. Housekeeping service costs an average of $167 each time the service comes out to clean. Many services charge more for the initial visit, depending on the condition of the home. Keeping a tidy home can be difficult in the aftermath of your loved one’s death. Household cleaning services can create substantial expenses for your family.
  • Caring for an elderly family member. Did your deceased loved one provide care for an aging family member? In-home care costs an average of $21 per hour, with many services requiring a minimum number of hours for each visit. Senior care can grow extremely costly for the family, especially for individuals who require round-the-clock care.
  • Home and yard maintenance. Depending on the size of the yard, simple maintenance services may cost between $49 and $129 per visit. Taking care of bigger tasks, from cleaning out the gutters to trimming shrubs, can cost even more.

Carefully consider the services your loved one provided to the family before death. We know a wrongful death claim cannot replace your loved one. However, it can enable you to replace some of the services they provided to your family. When a loved one is taken from you due to another’s negligence, you and your family deserve to maintain the quality of life you enjoyed before the loss of a loved one.

The Loss of Your Loved One’s Presence

The loss of a loved one creates a void that many families struggle to fill. While you may have difficulty quantifying that loss, by working with an attorney, you can get a better picture of what compensation you deserve. You may be compensated for the loss of your loved one’s presence in your life. Damages might include:

  • Loss of companionship and consortium, for a spouse
  • Loss of guidance and wisdom, for a child
  • Loss of care in old age, for an adult parent of a child

Negotiating a Wrongful Death Claim

When someone dies in an accident, insurance adjusters know the company needs to provide compensation to the decedent’s family. Often, insurance companies will provide families with settlement offers shortly after your loved one’s death. You will likely be tempted by their offer. However, always consult with an attorney before accepting. You may discover that the insurance company did not offer adequate compensation for your loss. An attorney can help you negotiate a higher settlement amount to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

An attorney can assist you in creating a wrongful death claim package incorporating all the financial elements of your loss. You will request a specific amount from the insurance company—often a much higher amount than the insurance company will offer. Then, the insurance company will consider your request and either accept it or issue a return offer. You then have the right to accept the return offer or continue to negotiate.

In some cases, you may go through several rounds of negotiation before accepting a settlement. In others, you may need to turn to arbitration or even go to court to seek the compensation you deserve. Having an attorney on your side can help make that process easier. Experienced attorneys can provide critical advice in calculating your loss to help you manage negotiations. Many insurance companies will offer more compensation when you retain a lawyer, since they want to avoid a court battle.

San Diego Wrongful Death FAQ

When you lose a loved one due to the negligence of another entity, you deserve compensation for that loss. Connecting with an experienced personal injury attorney can help answer many of the questions related to your specific claim; however, these questions and their answers can give you a general idea of what to expect as part of your wrongful death claim.

1. Who has the right to file a wrongful death claim after an individual’s death due to another party’s negligence?

After the death of a loved one in an accident, the closest family members to that individual have the first right to file a wrongful death claim. If the deceased had a spouse, the spouse has the first right to file a wrongful death claim. With no spouse in the picture, surviving children can file a claim. Without either spouse or children, the parents of the deceased may have the right to file a wrongful death claim. In some specific cases, other family members who relied on the deceased for financial or physical support may have the right to file a wrongful death claim. When no family members exist in those positions, the estate of the deceased may have the right to file a wrongful death claim to help pay the deceased’s debts or to provide for heirs.

2. When do I have grounds to file a wrongful death claim?

If someone else’s negligence led to the deceased’s death, you may have grounds to file a wrongful death claim. A good rule of thumb: if the deceased, had they lived, could have filed a personal injury claim against the responsible party, you, as a family member of the deceased may have ground for a wrongful death claim. Consulting an experienced personal injury attorney can help give you a better idea of whether you have grounds for a claim.

3. Can I file a wrongful death claim if my loved one did not die at the scene of the accident?

In some accidents, including auto accidents and medical malpractice, your loved one might not die of their injuries immediately. Sometimes, a loved one may linger for weeks after the accident itself before succumbing to those injuries. If those injuries led to the death of a loved one, you still have the right to file a wrongful death claim.

4. How do I identify the party that caused my loved one’s death?

To file a wrongful death claim, an attorney will work with you to clearly identify the entity that caused the death of your loved one. In some cases, multiple individuals or entities, including businesses, may share liability for your loved one’s death: for example, in an accident with a big truck, you may need to pursue action against both the driver of that truck and the company that employs the driver.

To identify all parties who share liability for the accident, the attorney will consider:

  • Who bore a duty of care to your loved one at the time of the accident? In an auto accident, that means every other driver on the road as well as the manufacturer of the vehicles and parts.
  • Who violated that duty of care?
  • How did that violation lead to or contribute to your loved one’s death?

By answering these key questions, an attorney can begin to form the foundation of your wrongful death claim.

5. How much can I expect from a wrongful death claim?

The amount you can receive for the wrongful death of a loved one can vary. Several factors can limit the compensation you may receive for the loss of your loved one, including:

  • The coverage offered by an insurance policy, if relevant. If you lose a loved one in an auto accident, for example, California law provides only $15,000 in minimum bodily injury coverage per individual, which may, in many insurance policies, extend to covering death benefits after the loss of a loved one. Other types of policies, including premises liability policies, insurance policies carried by truck drivers, or the insurance policies that cover doctors in the event of medical malpractice, may provide higher levels of coverage.
  • The number of parties injured or killed in the accident. Just as insurance policies can limit the coverage each individual receives after an accident, they can also limit maximum payment for the entire accident. In an auto accident, for example, California insurance companies may pay out a maximum of $30,000 for bodily injury. If multiple parties suffer injuries or die in the accident, it can limit the compensation offered to each party.
  • What you ask for. Following the loss of your loved one, you will file a wrongful death claim that specifically includes all economic and intangible losses as a result of your loved one’s death. When you fill out your wrongful death claim, you should include:
    • The deceased’s medical expenses before death. 
    • The deceased’s pain and suffering before death.
    • The loss of your loved one’s income.
    • The loss of services provided by the deceased.
    • The loss of your loved one’s companionship and presence.

6. Does a wrongful death claim rely on a criminal verdict?

Following the loss of a loved one, in the case of criminal negligence or irresponsibility, the responsible party or entity may face criminal charges related to the loss of your loved one. That investigation and the resulting charges, however, do not determine the results of your wrongful death claim. While the criminal investigation can help produce evidence that will help determine your claim, even if the defendant does not receive a guilty verdict in the criminal case, the defendant may still bear liability for paying for the loss of your loved one. Criminal cases often revolve around malicious intent, proved beyond a reasonable doubt. In a wrongful death claim, however, you need only prove that the defendant’s negligence, more likely than not, caused your loved one’s death.

7. How long after my loved one’s death do I have to file a wrongful death claim?

The California statute of limitations may limit how long you have to file a wrongful death claim after the loss of a loved one. In general, however, you should not let the clock run down toward that statute of limitations while waiting to file that claim. The sooner you file a wrongful death claim, the sooner an attorney can start working on your behalf. That attorney can collect vital evidence that can help prove the defendant’s responsibility for your loved one’s loss as well as helping you give a full picture of the funds you should expect from a wrongful death claim.

The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner you can collect that vital evidence. Even if significant time has passed since your loved one’s death, however, consult with an attorney if you believe you have grounds for a wrongful death claim. Exceptions do exist to the statute of limitations that can help expand the time you have to seek compensation for the loss of a loved one.

8. Do I need an attorney to file a wrongful death claim?

You do not have to work with an attorney to file a wrongful death claim. However, an attorney can provide significant advantages throughout the process. Many families find that working with an attorney helps give them a better picture of the compensation they deserve and, in many cases, that simply hiring an attorney significantly increases the compensation they receive for the loss of a loved one. An attorney can also help reduce stress and guide you through the claim.

9. The insurance company that covers the legally liable entity offered me a settlement for my loved one’s loss. Should I accept it?

Before accepting a settlement offer from an insurance company, consult us. In some cases, insurance companies will issue a low settlement offer immediately after the accident: one that may look good on the surface, but fails to reflect the full funds you deserve for the loss of a loved one. Instead of accepting this offer immediately, take the time to consult with an attorney first.

Sometimes, the insurance company might offer a settlement in the maximum amount of the insurance policy that covers the liable entity. In this case, an attorney may advise you to accept the offer. In others, the offer might fail to reflect the full extent of your financial losses following the loss of your loved one. In that case, an attorney might advise you to negotiate further. You may also receive a settlement offer after you file your claim: one less than the amount you initially asked for, but which better reflects the funds you deserve for your loss. An attorney can help you determine when to accept an offer and when to continue negotiations.

10. Can I file more than one wrongful death claim for the loss of my loved one?

You can file a wrongful death claim against each entity responsible for the loss of your loved one, but you cannot file more than one wrongful death claim for the loss of a single individual, even if multiple parties have the right to claim compensation for that loss. For example, if the deceased has no spouse, but several surviving children, those children will need to work together to file a single wrongful death claim. The family can decide among its members how to distribute the funds gained through a wrongful death claim. The court will not award separate claims to the different individuals impacted by the loss of a loved one.

Do You Need a Wrongful Death Attorney in San Diego?

If you lost a loved one in San Diego due to another party’s negligence, you may need an attorney. An attorney will help you navigate the wrongful death claims process. Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys at (619) 237-3490 today to schedule your free consultation.

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